60 / 100
Plum-infused Belgian strong ale, brewed for GABS 2017 and tried there on tap. Pours an amber colour, slight haze in it. Cream-coloured head, bubbly, dissipates fairly quickly but looks good when poured. Yeah not bad.
Smells spicy and phenolic, I guess. Coriander and star anise are quite dominant. Some darker coffee characters on there which is a bit unexpected. Cinnamon; yeah mostly the yeast character and doesn't have much fruit character which I expected.
Taste is similar, in that it is missing the plum quite conspicuously. Lots of spice though, with cinnamon, clove and star anise that carries the palate into full phenolic territory towards the finish. Clovey, and a bit intense. Yeah, feels medicinal. I don't love it.
Decent body, slight warming alcohol towards the back. Not bad.
Not a bad drop but just lacking in some of the aspects that made it sound quite promising. A bit unbalanced as well.
Belgian Strong Ale on plums. Had on tap at the brewery.
Pours a shiny gold, clear with a trickle of bead. Head is white, decently dense with a slight cloud retaining after a while. Lacing is notable but thin, and not that clingy. Looks alright.
Smells pleasant and fruity. Big tart character with brett funk and some distinct fruit juice character. Mango and melon notes really. Pleasant souring and funk. Good.
Tastes enjoyable too; far less tart than I'd expected but a good sort of sherbet tang character throughout. Light fruit esters upfront with a touch of caramel malt, some plummy and sweet citrus notes - cumquatty really - midway, then the finish has that kind of faux grape ester note and some sherbet that's quite refreshing. Bit heavy in the middle with the booze strength. It's actually a slight duff note where more tartness would be very welcome.
Light bodied for the size, just sleek without that much body. Booze is there on flavour but less so in heat, so well constructed.
Yeah, it drinks heavier as it goes on. The tartness is conspicuously lacking and it's sorely needed for the character. Ends up spiritous and almost medicinal.
59 / 100
33cl brown bottle, capped and covered with foil. Purchased as part of a bulk order with some colleagues.
Pours a lovely clear dark golden colour, with a frothy, firm head of white that leaves sudsy streaks of lace. Carbonation is quite high, with some large bubbles and some finer bubbles near the top. Looks pretty good.
Nose doesn't show the "houblon" the label, promises, but there's a pleasant mild candied malt character that provides aromatics. The booze elevates it a little, giving a hint of dried fruit and even a slight suggestion of apricot. It's quite pleasant.
Taste is rather thin, disappointingly. It has a lightness to the body, which is not overwhelmed by the carbonation, fortunately, although the effervescence is quite robust. The back is a little metallic, and you can taste rather than feel the heat of the booze. Otherwise, it leaves some slightly earthy flavours towards the finish.
Overall, this has its moments, but I suspect it's a little old, and perhaps younger it has a more sprightly and pleasant aroma from the hops. Right now, it feels like there's a hole where something's missing, so it only has a certain amount of charm.
74 / 100
Dry-hopped Belgian style ale with Brettanomyces. Oh boy. Bottle given to me by Jez, tried by myself in front of my computer, typing notes into this form.
Pours a deep orange-amber colour, with lovely generous head that sinks unevenly leaving a beautiful marshmallowy pillow at the top. Nice trails of lace around the glass but maybe a bit thin. Just specks after a while. Still, looks great.
Smells Bretty. Nice and tart, with a good funk to it, slightly spicy and earthy as well. Touch of berry to the tartness, and behind it all is this nice rich sweet malt character, cake batter with some nice pearl barley and some earthy rye spice. Smells amazing, just a gorgeous equilibrium between tart, funky, sweet and rich. Could maybe be a touch more tart but otherwise sublime.
Taste is a bit unexpected, quite radically different in fact from what I expected, but while it's different it's certainly not bad. There's a big, ballsy rich malt note throughout all of this, quite spicy with rye notes and a good burnt caramel toffee character especially towards the back. Brett doesn't really tart it up, it comes through somewhat fresh late-mid but then just adds to that earthy richness towards the finish, giving an organic barnyard type character and a touch of grapefruit tangy bitterness. Feels a little bit empty on the mid-palate where I expected the sourness to come through, and it leaves a little astringent hang which is not ideal, but otherwise there's plenty to enjoy here.
Mouthfeel is a little puckering, really dry from start to finish bu has a good padding on the back so it's not harsh. Like a good champagne really.
Drinks well, fairly tart but there's a good balance to it. The hang is a little unfortunate, which could have been avoided perhaps if the overall flavour had more tartness, it would at least make you want to compulsively drink more.
44 / 100
Pours a gold colour. Slight orange tinge. Head is off-white and foamy with nice sticky curtain of lace left behind. Looks pretty good, could retain better.
Smells sweet and candied. Slight metallic character upfront with notes of orange blossom and lemon thyme. Smells under-attenuated. It's sweet in a big under-ripe fruit kind of way. Kinda meh.
Taste is yeah similar. Malt liquory kind of character. Big sweet grain character with buttery caramel notes. Then gets a round, orange marmalade character with residual sweetness on the back. It also feels a bit big but somehow not that strong because it feels under-attenuated. Just feels like there's sweet malt notes that are potential to be converted into interesting complexities but aren't quite there yet.
Bit of boozed character on the mouthfeel and then a slight fruity twang on the back. Not bad.
Yeah, feels unfermented, overly sweet, unbalanced and kind of unpleasant. Such a shame because there are otherwise nice characters peeping in around the edges.
57 / 100
22oz brown bomber purchased from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA. It's some time ago as well, so let's see how it's aged.
Pours a slightly coppery golden colour, quite clear in the body, with a fairly broad head to begin with. This settles out to a thin ring though, and leaves minimal lace. Body has a bit of weight, although the carbonation moves fairly swiftly. Looks decent enough.
Nose has a touch of oxidation to it, coming across slightly coppery and metallic. There's a vinous note to it. There is something quite organic about it, perhaps it's the dandelion, but it gives a slight plastic tone to the aroma. Slight booziness as well is noticeable. I don't love it.
Taste is a bit better, because it trends more towards the sweeter, rounder characters of a Belgian Strong. There are weird spicy notes, but they dance over the top while the real beer does its thing trudging through the centre. The back has a slight hint of peach, but it's the first suggestion of it anywhere in the beer.
Feel is thick and juicy, with some heat in the back. The 9% is certainly not hidden.
Overall, this is actually kind of mediocre. All of the additional ingredients don't necessarily make a coherent story, and the weight and the balance are slightly off. I don't hate it, but it's certainly not a particularly stellar brew.
Bottle purchased by Father Fletcher in Milawa, Victoria. Shared with him on a Friday night.
Pours pale gold, fairly cloudy, big voluminous head with great density and lacing. Looks good, the head is wonderful.
Smells very fruity. Big apple notes, touch of orange and banana, and piquant savoury spice notes with pepper. Earthy, and all on the back if you look for it. Not bad, kinda witbierish but yeah bit more oomph.
Taste is fairly malty, yet not overly strong or complex. Big caramel note, fairly empty on the mid and then lightly fruity on the finish, some lemon and candied orange peel, with some balancing spice. Cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Finishes somewhat bitter but light, faint hint of booze. Not bad at all.
Foamy, bit of heat midway and then a little thin on the back. Not a bad texture though.
Yeah pretty malty with some nice esters on there as well. Decent spice notes. Knowing where it was bought I wouldn't be surprised if it's a bit old. It holds up quite well especially on the finish but it does seem a bit lacking in the mid-palate which may not be a fault of the beer but just a sign of age.
60 / 100
Belgian 'specialty' ale brewed for GABS 2016. Tried there on tap.
Pours a really pale straw colour, slightly cloudy. Head is white, kind of foamy, but doesn't really stick around in any serious way. So pale. Intriguing without being great.
Smells grainy upfront with a fair nutty edge. Some new world hop character coming through in a fruity way - fresh tangerine and apple mostly. Nuts and tang.
Taste is similar, fairly grainy and nutty on the front, before it develops a slight fruity tang midway with some more apple notes and a light citrus note. Fairly phenolic on the back, gets a slight clove hit and a touch of medicinal bitterness that doesn't overwhelm. A bit insubstantial flavour-wise, but not bad.
Body is a little thin, and the carbonation shows through in a way that it shouldn't. Alcohol is otherwise well-hidden.
Not a bad beer, but it's a little unclear from the tasting notes what they're going for, and it isn't a whole lot clearer having tasted it.
62 / 100
Pours an amber colour, slightly cloudy. Head is foamy, cream-coloured, touch of bead in the body. Looks alright.
Smells of galaxy hops. Passionfruit, with a subtle underlying cake batter malt aroma. Not much else, pretty simple.
Taste is also fairly hoppy. Some slight grainy malt upfront with a touch of chestnut to it, then gets some more new world hops towards the back, passionfruit with a fair tang. Subdued phenolic character towards the back. Not a lot of Belgian character for the style but it's not too bad.
Somewhat thin body, touch of tingle from the carbonation and a subtle alcohol warmth. Pretty nice.
Drinks fine, but not particularly distinct from a standard pale ale with Galaxy hops.
Tried on-tap at GABS 2015 in Melbourne.
Pours a clear, golden colour, without much in the way of haze. Body is very light-weight, especially for its size. Head is white and fairly solid, leaving decent lace in its wake. Tilting the glass gives thin streams of carbonation. Looks OK.
Nose is pretty grainy. Faint stonefruit notes and rather peppery. It's very dull though and these characters are really very weak. As it warms, there's a touch of rockmelon skin as well, but again, it's a faint suggestion over a voluminous aroma of blandness.
Taste is worse. Thin, and very sugary on the front. Leaked weak emotion, slightly clingy with boiled ferns. Unpleasant. There's almost nothing to it, maybe a bit of pepper towards the end. Feel is very weak.
This is pretty bad, definitely tending to bad rather than just dull. It's a shame because these guys can do much better. Indeed, their Gary LeBron was one of my favourites from the festival last year. I hope 2016 is a better GABS year for Colonial.
Pours a straw colour, bit of cloud with foamy off-white head on top. Bit pale, but not bad.
Smells grainy, and fairly sweet, with malty characters upfront developing a touch of oatmeal. Somewhat Belgian; nothing special.
Taste is very sweet again, with a big malty front and a fair whack of cereal. Touch of rye spice midway as it goes into slight Belgian phenolic character but the whole thing remains sweet, and a little bit cloyingly so.
Bit of carbonation on the texture that might have been a flaw but helps to cut through the sweetness just a touch.
Not a bad drop, but nothing special, and a disappointment after last year's lovely musk saison.
62 / 100
Pours an unnaturally orange colour; very sedimenty with thin, whispy head. Lace is OK but yeah, looks more weird than anything.
Smells somewhat bitter. Funky. Nice fresh tangy orange note on there, but lots of buttery oak, wet lucerne and earth. Could use a bit more acid, maybe, but it's an intriguing nose otherwise well-balanced.
Taste is weird and off-putting. Hugely bitter with an intense grapefruit character throughout, plus notes of tobacco, grains of paradise and finishing extremely peppery on the back, with some notes of soil and a lingering ashy character. Really bizarre; can't say I love it, but props for being so uncompromising with flavour.
Bit harsh, lots of pull on the mid-to-late, don't feel like there's enough body to it.
Off-putting? No doubt, but there is much of interest here, and rewards here for those like a challenge.
22oz brown bomber purchased from (where else) Healthy Spirits in San Francisco. This version is supposedly a Healthy Spirits exclusive. My bottle was #107 of 432. Brought it back to Sydney where I shared it with the brew crew on a brew day.
Pours a slightly hazed deep golden colour, with minimal but exquisitely fine carbonation that feeds a rather filmy head that never really exceeds much more than a ring of pancake bubbles. Body is light, but very fine, as distinguished by the carbonation bubbles. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is very sweet from the outset. Slightly worty sweetness with a definite oak-barrel/bourbon character that does add a slight grassiness to the beer overall. Maybe a touch of stonefruit—wome young apricot or an underripe peach. It's interesting enough, even though the flavours don't necessarily work all that well together.
Taste is similar. There's a very pronounced sharpness to this, which really does taste like dried apricots with a touch of tartness. The oak accounts for some of that, but the dryness in the palate means that you taste it all, including a rather noticeable booziness on the back. Sweetness is a lot less here—just the hint of it given by the bourbon oak. By the end, it has a rather tannic dryness that almost tastes like oily bitterness. By the end, it's perhaps a bit too much.
Feel is decent enough. There is a slickness to it that helps it to some degree, but the dryness in the flavour means that the feel seems more squeezed and thin than it is in reality.
Overall, I'm afraid this was a bit of a disappointment to me. I don't really think the oak helps the beer much, and in fact may just steamroll over some of the subtler characters. And yet in the process, it also has to fight against the beer's inherent dryness and mild acidity. As a result it's a bit messy.
33cl brown bottle purchased from Domus Birrae in Rome.
Pours a very hazed golden colour, with some orange at the deeper parts. Head forms as a slushy white crest, but settles out to a pocked film across the top. Lace forms in places, but is pretty inconsistent. Looks a bit flat—I hope better things are coming up.
Nose is indeed better, with a nice mix of earthy grains and pronounced Belgian ester characters. Solid rounded sweetness, not a lot of spice, but some boozy characters from the surprisingly high ABV. It's pretty solid.
Taste is also good. Clean and forthright on the front, with a touch of spice that comes in on the mid-palate, giving a touch of cloves and some crushed watermelon. Malt is light, but structured, giving body and basis to the beer right through to the back. Finish is a bit light, but given how high in alcohol it is, that's quite something. Mouthfeel is soft, but with a click at the back which gives it a pleasant sendoff.
Overall, this is actually pretty good. It doesn't have the complexity of the best Belgian examples, but the Belgian genesis is apparent, and the beer is pretty well-made. The 9.5% ABV is well-hidden, which really aids the drinkability—more depth and character would make it exceptional.
77 / 100
33cl brown bottle purchased from Platinum Liquor in Bellevue Hill.
Pours a slightly hazed but still bright pale golden colour, with a frothy carbonated head of white. Lace forms in suds as the head collapses, leaving a foam across the top of the glass. Body is fluid, but with a hint of weight behind it and a mess of large-bubbled carbonation when swirled. Looks good.
Nose is excellent. Big champagne-dry yeast characters, restrained sharp fruity esters, herbal crushed greenery. All held together with a bright but coherent sweetness. It's extremely refined and sophisticated. Excellent stuff.
Taste is also very good. Very clean entry with a hint of sugary sweetness that is then tempered by more of those dry yeasty characters—these allow the beer to glide to a clean and pleasingly light finish. Minimal estery characters, although there's a slight peppery punctuation that comes in on the mid-to-back, but not more than this: it remains really very smooth and approachable throughout. Alcohol character in particular is well-hidden.
Feel is smooth and light, but with a frothiness from the carbonation and the body which is lighter than expected.
Extremely drinkable for its weight, this is a very well-crafted beer. Although I know a session of these would be a foolish thing to do, the characters of the beer almost make me want to attempt it. Very nice stuff indeed.
82 / 100
750ml brown bottle purchased from Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich. At the time of drinking it was about 18 months on from when I bought it.
Pours a slightly hazed, but brilliantly golden colour, with a firm, solid head of pure white that stays slick and pleasant across the top of the glass. Carbonation is a little loose, detaching itself in erratic waves when the glass is tilted. Lacing forms languid strokes down the side of the glass. Overall, it looks very good.
Nose is great: bright, tight tartness with supple undertones of chardonnay and oak. Slight carbonic funk comes through, and there's a cleanness to the malt character: again suggesting deep white wine.
Taste is very clean and smooth. Moderated tartness permeates from front to the back, and there's never a spike of it meaning it meanders and hides amongst the other notes that come and go. There's a peach/stonefruit character on the front that is bright and pleasant, while on the back the oak is in fine fettle, giving a broad smooth finish. Some Belgian phenolics punctuate the very end, leaving a slight medicinal note. It's very good.
Feel is pretty smooth, but given a bit of life by the phenolics on the back and the slight acidity. Alcohol heat is nowhere to be found.
Overall, this is really cracking stuff. It's very complex, but blended into a delicate smoothness that belies its 10% ABV. This is a really exceptional beer.
Tall 750ml wrapped-cap brown bottle purchased from Berkeley Bowl West in Berkeley, CA. Shared with Mr Richard Smith.
Pours a very clear golden colour, with an initially frothy white head that settles down to merely a frothy ring. Lace is solid. Body is quite heavy, so it holds carbonation pretty fully, despite the carbonation being a little bit flimsy and coarse.
Nose has some rounded Belgian notes, mingled with some harsher alcohol characters and an Almost Adjunct sweetness. Slight smokiness comes through, although it's perhaps just the slightly savoury note that permeates it along with the cereal character. Overall, it smells a little bit like a Belgian beer done by a non-Belgian: the characters are there, but are not moulded into their correct proportions.
Taste is similarly styled. Big sweetness throughout and more body than necessary, but cut with a estery yeast character that also suggests higher alcohols—it feels inchoately boozy: I know it's only mid-range for a Belgian Strong, but it feels bigger than it is. The palate lingers long after it's necessary, with barley sugar and other cereal sweetnesses extending it beyond its welcome.
Feel is too thick. It needs something to cut through it, and everything seems to fall short of doing it, including the body.
Overall, I found this really difficult to get through. It was in some senses quite a generic Belgian Strong, but it had none of the finesse which makes the style often so good. Ultimately it ended up like a beer someone was trying out without really understanding of what makes it good.
71 / 100
Purchased at a random Indian grocery/spice shop in the East Village. Muled back to Oz and shared.
Pours a deep red colour, a bit cloudy. Great off-white head that sinks a bit too quickly, but nice lace curtain left behind. Looks nice.
Smells a little funky at first, with a note of cheese even. Big cranberry tartness, with washed-rind, horse blanket and a savoury oak note that's also very prominent. Funky, oaky, not much else, but who'd want more?
Taste is more funk but also more malt. Quite a sweetness upfront with brown sugar and a touch of peanuts; develops bold, funky notes midway, with a touch of that washed-rind cheese, but then finish is all bourbon oak with vanilla and a touch of coconut. Could use a bit more on the Belgian front, as that bourbon really takes over midway. Not a bad thing, but I feel this beer would have had more to offer if not so oak-soaked.
Full, but rounded. A bit foamy in the mouth and a good finish. Wonderful.
Nice introduction to Virginian beer. Lots of character, but with a good, steady hand on the whacky factor. I feel like if this were even a couple of % ABV bigger it would be an absolute knock-out, as the main issue here is the oak is slightly too dominant. But if all Virginian brews are like this, I look forward to more.
75 / 100
750ml bottle purchase by @LaitueGonflable in NYC. Shared with me in Sydney.
Pours a pleasantly hazed amber red hue with a full and persistent head of off-white tending to pink. Lacing is intricate and excellent.Body is full but still pretty fluid. Quite minimal carbonation, despite the persistence and size of the head. Looks good.
Nose is rounded and hoppy. Plenty of fruit, but blended with a supple sweetness that gives off overripe plums and stonefruit with very little sharpness or acidity. Under this is a very pleasant woody note. Oak and earthiness. Slight rustic funk to it, but more of a suggestion of acidity without being actually acidic. The sweetness tempers everything in here, making it feel fresh and full throughout. Lovely stuff.
Taste is clean and bright, without perhaps the complexity that the nose suggested. Certainly the earthy, slightly woody tones come through, rustic and slightly bretty. But the sweetness, especially the stonefruit has been removed, leaving just the malt basis to hold up the rest of it. Faint earthy hop characters come through on the back giving a point of conclusion. It's pleasant.
Feel is smooth throughout and quite undercarbonated. In this beer, that's no bad thing.
Overall, this is a very pleasant, drinkable brew with a lot going for it. If I was a tad disappointed with the palate, it's just because the nose was so wonderful and promised so much. But it's still very good stuff: rounded, integrated, and complete.
76 / 100
Tried on-tap at the Courthouse in Melbourne during GBW 2013, as part of the ACT's Pint of Origin venue.
Pours a solid golden colour, perfectly clear, with a light but silky body that flows like liquid metal. Head is white, but minimal, forming a futzy ring that fizzles out until it's swirled again. Overall, it looks fine, but a little lacklustre.
Big estery characters on the nose. Banana, rounded Belgian yeast, acetone, with some organic characters of pine nuts and cherry pits. Ooh, it's all very intense and quite complex. They've got a lot of flavour out of this beer.
Light yeasty entry on the palate, rounded and bold. This moves to a fruitier melange mid-palate, and both duskier and fresher, with the addition of cherry, pepper and grapeskin. Finish is smooth, pleasantly masked booze and spike of spice above a silky finish that coats the palate and soothes it.
Feel is very smooth, light, but silky, and really cushions both the complexities of the flavour and the booze, which is very nicely held in check.
Overall, this is very good stuff. For 9% ABV, it's astoundingly drinkable. It's lightness and delicacy are its great strength, while its complexity provides it with stacks of flavour.
70 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with a slight cloud. Head is listless, just a ring of thin white foam. Sticks to glass alright, but otherwise looks pretty blah.
Smells intriguing. Bit of sweet honey malt with a bit of a hole where the pungency of the smell dips a little, but then floating above it all is a nice star anise spice, plenty of clove, a touch of green apple and some cinnamon. Blends in well with Belgian overtones, but yeah, would like more malty oomph.
Taste is quite Belgian. Has a slight sour overtone and plenty of that spicy yeast character, blended nicely with the fuirt chai spice notes. Plenty of clove, star anise, touch of fennel as well as some green apple, plum and raisin. Overall it's oddly sweet, but the tart edge is nice and very welcome, blends in quite well with spice and brown sugar. Pleasant drop.
Bit of sizzle to it. Decent body, but doesn't quite cover that carb fizz.
Nice Belgian beer with a pleasant spice twist. Personally I'd like to see the same spice twist in a richer, desserty beer, but it's a good match with the Belgian notes.
69 / 100
330ml brown bottle, purchased at the brewery in Alfredton. A "chai spice Belgian blond", according to the label.
Pours a very blond golden colour with a fine ring of bubbling as its only crest. Lacing forms in minimal but thin strips as the beer goes down. Carbonation is extremely fine, and the beer looks pretty solid. Overall, it looks pretty good.
Nose is a really pleasant blend of rounded Belgian tones, with the spice character inherent in the style accentuated by a subtle sweet Chai character. Cinnamon and cloves come through fragrantly, with some sweet ginger and bay leaf character. There's a hint of booze to it as well, which just creates a heady accentuation to everything. It's very pleasant: the spices mix well and integrate almost seamlessly with the Belgian character. It's very well done.
Taste is a lot lighter, and it a little disappointing as a result. Mild, only faintly Belgian tones underpin a thin, reedy spice character, which adds punctuation but little depth or complexity. Some booziness comes through towards the back, with the result that all the malt just drops out, leaving a gaseous ethanol character. Unfortunately, it feels as though it's a middling Belgian ale accentuated but not improved by the spices on the palate.
Feel is fine and fluid. Pleasant, but without enough heft to really aid the flavour much.
Overall, it's pretty interesting, and actually a well-conceived idea: the chai really blends nicely with the spice characters inherent in the style as it stands. This maybe fails a little in that it doesn't really get the base Belgian blond style as spot on as it should. But despite this, it's still quite a compelling brew. Worth seeking out.
40 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour; healthy bead. Head is huge, white, sparse but healthy bubbling. Yeah, looks pretty good.
Smells yeasty, with a honeyed edge. Yeah, honey-oat kind of character with a touch of earthiness. Herbal, gravelly bitterness, possibly hops or possibly just phenols. Otherwise pretty nice.
Taste opens up quickly to a very bready, yeasty palate. Loads of honey sweetness, oatmeal, golden syrup, yeah just cereal sweetness. Bit of depth to the palate but I find the overall flavour quite distaasteful, so can't call it great.
Fluid feel, not too bad. Drinks alright.
Sweet, grainy beer. Feels like the type that gives you a headache. Just sweet overall, not my thing.
78 / 100
Pours a burnished copper colour, head of small bubbles but retaining well. Yeah, good.
Smells quite bretty and funky. Fair bready yeast character as well with notes of lime, pineapple and currants. Earthy at times as well, with a good amount of tartness. Nice.
Wow, taste is more like a perry. Seriously, pear, apple, a touch of vanilla and raspberry and a big gulp of cinnamon. Funky barnyard sort of rounds it out and adds a richness to the pleasant mélange of sweet/sour/spicy. Fascinating, and delicious palate.
Bit boozey hot, unfortunately, and quite noticeably. A shame. Decent body though.
Really enjoying this, in spite of the obvious heat. So much nice sweet, spicy and sour in great balance that I don't care that much.
77 / 100
This may be the most famous beer I've not gotten around to reviewing. I do remember probably trying it for the first time at a Belgian Beer tasting many years ago, when the concept of a beer over 5% ABV was unknown to me. Needless to say it was a messy night. This is a 330ml stubby Belgian bottle purchased from Dan Murphy's in Alexandria.
Pours a clear, effervescent golden colour, with a frothy, crackling head of white fed by that effusive and exuberant carbonation. Lace forms as patches of bubbles left behind. body is very light, certainly not 8.5%'s worth of residual sugar sitting around in this baby. Overall, it's refined and sophisticated.
Nose is spicy but crisp. Some phenolic characters come through, along with some apple skin, wine barrels, a little vanilla and some white pepper. Dusty, earthy tones are also noticeable. The vanilla becomes more prominent as it's warmed, and the phenols and detection of booze subsides. Nice stuff.
Taste is clean and bright, with a long palate that stays fluid and light throughout. Alcohol is well hidden, just a slight upturn of those phenolic characters on the finish. As it warms, sweeter notes come through as well. More of that vanilla aroma, along with some banana esters and a hint of marzipan. Very tasty, but always subdued and pulled along into that all-encompassing cleanness.
Feel is very light and smooth. It really shouldn't be any other way.
Yes, dangerously light and drinkable, and exceptionally refined. This is a very well made strong Belgian ale, and a worthy canonical example.
82 / 100
330ml bottle purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne.
Pours an exceptionally light yellow colour: very fine and very clear. Head is a solid froth of white—surprisingly not as frothy and large as a regular Duvel usually gives. Carbonation is vibrant and pervasive. It looks like a very nice champagne. Very refined and exciting.
Nose is gorgeous. Big clean citric bite from the Citra, backed by solid leafy, herbal and fresh classic hop varieties. Smooth, clear light malt backs it up, providing a crisp organic character, but letting the hops do most of the work. Some spicy notes from the yeast come through as well, along with a hint of fragrant vanilla, but it's much cleaner than perhaps a standard Belgian ale at 9.5%. In some senses, it's rather reminiscent of an Imperial Pils. Lovely aroma.
Taste is clean and light, and drinkable in that skillful way the Belgians have of making high ABV beers so quaffable. Light mild estery notes on the mid-palate do inflame into a slightly boozy hint on the back. But there's a pleasant brut dryness to the finish as well, which musses up with some leafy hop notes, giving a crisp finish and a lilting flavour kick. Mostly, this is clean and fresh, and really rather pleasant indeed.
Mouthfeel is bright and sparkling, with a pleasant powdery effervescence. It really does justice to the bright crisp hop fragrances.
Yes, this is really excellent stuff. Fresh, fragrant and drinkable, but crafted with mastery and balanced wonderfully.
58 / 100
Pours a golden colour, slightly cloudy with white foamy head. Decent retention. Looks pretty standard Belgian.
Quite sweet on the nose, with vanilla and stone fruit. Hints of phenolic spice give it a decent Belgian twist but nothing too distinct.
Taste is a bit disappointing. Sweet and fruity again with bubblegum ester upfront, hint of banilla and caramel, then the back is quite boozey-tasting from the beetroot-extracted sugar not giving much character beyond ethanol. Gets very phenolic, but it's not too strong to ruin it all, still alright.
Bit boozey, but not sharp. Feels a little bit heavy and hangover-making maybe.
Interesting Belgian drop, but perhaps a little heavy-handed.
69 / 100
Bottle purchased for me by @epiclurk. Shared with Rich & Sam. You know who they are.
Pours a deep amber, turning to garnet, with a fluffy, but slightly bubbly and insubstantial head of white. No lacing. Body looks heavy enough, but also slightly oily and dangerous. It looks somewhat still and menacing.
Nose is spicy and sharp, but with a solid backing of stretched malt and toffee. There are definite wafts of booze coming through, with a heady intensity that already makes you a little woozy. Peppery, yet sweet. It's odd.
Taste is rich and deep, with a most pronounced lightness in feel and body that I was afraid was going to let the booze take overâfortunately, it doesn't, it sits in the wings with the suggestion of intensity. Light honey characters come through balanced with a little pepper and a mild astringency, which is tempered and restrained. Mild carbonic character on the finish, and the suggestion of apricots. It's not bad.
Feel is certainly much, much lighter than I thought it might have been. It could survive a serious increase.
Overall, it's pretty well-balanced, without getting too hot or intense, despite its strength. It's a complicated beer, no doubt, but it manages to stay on the side of respectability.
75 / 100
2010 vintage, caged and corked bottle purchased from Slowbeer by @epiclurk. Shared this with @tobeerornottobe and @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a very clear golden hue, with a frothy, but bubbly and large-bubbled head of white. Lacing is streaking and falling, but solid enough. Body is exceptionally light. Looks pretty solid.
Nose is classically Belgian: big rounded sweetness, soft malt and honey characters, with just the hint of some esters and fragrant greenery from the yeast. There's a touch of acidity to it, but it's all very well integrated.
Similar characters on the palate, slightly earthy Belgian tones, sweetness and spice on the finish. Mild, stretchy funk adds an odd overtone, but it's all just part of the rich tapestry. Overall, it's all the classic, slightly redolent, earthy, funky and rounded Belgian characters in a bigger and more expansive format. I really just takes me back to one of the squares of Bruges or Antwerp. Tastes of nostalgia.
Overall, it's good: I mean, it was always going to be good. It's good, in a standard, comfortable and recognisable way. It's good so that you know it's good, and so you can't disagree with the fact it's good. It's comfortable, it's warm, it's familiar.
75 / 100
Bottle purchased from Van Ness BevMo in San Francisco.
Pours a very hazy brownish amber hue, with a bubbly, but fine and slightly filmy head of off-white. Body is loose and liquid, yet with a decent heft to it. Carbonation is fine. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is piquant, with a fresh, fruity and spicy chilli note giving a capisicain bite. It's as though this takes the place of the hops, giving the leavening, vegetative freshness to counterbalance the malt, which comes forward in brown waves. Interesting.
Taste is a little sharp and phenolic, but with far less chilli flavour or heat than I expected. That's a good thing: it cements this as a stylistically different beer. It comes across as a big, bitey Belgian, with the concomitant phenols, booze and spice, but with continuing tingles of fruity chilli just giving a tingle of interest around the edges.
Feel is piquant, with some fine carbonation that accentuates some of the chilli notes.
Very, very interesting brew, and one which has been made with considerable skill to keep everything in check. Perhaps one of the more interesting of the Vertical Epics I've sampled.
750ml bottle purchased from Bevmo in Sunnyvale, CA.
Pours a very light golden colour, with a white head that froths up initially, but then forms a flimsy film atop the body. The beer itself seems a little light, although it forms really nice fine carbonation. Some positives, some negatives to the appearance.
Nose is uninspired. Mostly flat, with a fermented sugar or grainy adjunct character, mingled with a cloying sweetness and a hint of paint thinner. Some sugary notes could be the currants, although it could just be booze. Unimpressed.
Taste is better only because it is blander. Light grainy sweetness through to the back, when there's a slight uptilt in metal and booze, and perhaps a slight fruity acidity on the aftertaste. Feel is exceptionally light, almost absent. Overall, a really unimpressive brew.
Urgh. I'm totally off DFH's beers. Why did I buy this one? I knew it was going to follow the same trajectory. Something about the promise of currants through the boil intrigued me. But like most Dogfish beers I've had, the intrigue is one thing, and the execution is quite another.
Cheers to Al from the Great Northern Hotel in Carlton for squirreling away this offering from Garrett Oliver and sharing.
Pours a cloudy gold with a slight rosy tinge. Opaque, slight bead. Head dissipates quickly, doesn't leave much lace. Interesting but could see some improvement.
Nose is quite funky, with spice and lots of vanilla sweetness. Some sweetish floral notes, caramel and honeycomb as well; interesting. Decent tart character, but could still use more to cut through the sweetness.
Tastes very sweet: caramel and buttery notes on there, gets a sour note late-mid with funky organic tartness and a hint of berry. Barnyard character as well, but then very dry and boozey on the back. Rummy character finishes off, sweet and syrupy with a big hit of ethyl alcohol. That acidity on the mid-palate is pleasant but it needs to last to the back to cut through. Very flavoursome, but I like that sour character best and I wish it were more of a hero here.
Decent body; bit fluid and very dry on the back.
Bit heavy overall; I hate to keep harping on about it but I just feel something's needed to cut through that big boozey body.
45 / 100
Misled, I was expecting beetroot to form part of the colour or flavour of this beerâin fact the beetroot is used to provide extra sugar for the brew, much like Belgian candi sugar, and the end result is a Belgian strong golden ale. Tried on-tap at GABS in Melbourne.
Pours a slightly hazed golden colour, with solid body weight. Head is full and fine, a firm ring and fluff of white. Fine carbonation makes it look very refined. Overall, it's a great looking beer.
Minimal characters on the nose above some slight estery Belgian characters giving a hint of spice. It's not bad, but it's just, kinda, non-existent.
Mild banana characters on the front of the palate, before the bitter, phenolic and boozy notes take over and absolutely overwhelm the rest of the flavours, whatever they might have been. Finish is spicy and astringent, with big hits of heat on the middle and back of the tongue.
It's pointlessly bigâwhere the Belgians tease out complexities from the fermentation, this just steamrolls everything. It feels burning and astringent without purpose.
500ml caged and corked bottle, given to me by @LaitueGonflable.
Pours a very effervescent, clear golden colour, with a champagne-like bead and fizzling sec head. Body is fluid, with just a touch of weight behind it. Lacing is patchy. The champagne appearance is quite pleasant and refined, but it could be a little big more persistent.
Nose is a very strange combination of nectar sweet and bone- and earthy-dry. Soft bourbon oak characters come through giving a round, smooth sensation to the aroma, while the carbonation gives crisp champagne acidity. Together, they blend in to an odd apple-cider and caramelized tarte tartin flavour. It's unusual, and not unpleasant, but also a bit haphazard.
Taste is similar, with the added disadvantage of having quite a prominent heat on the back palate. Bourbon barrel opens proceedings, with a smooth oaky sweetness that develops into a slightly crisp phenolic tartness mid palate. More apple skin characters accompany the roar of booze on the finish, leaving a seared, raw character.
Feel suffers substantially from the heat, especially on the back, where it just overwhelms everything.
This had some promise. I quite liked the odd juxtaposition of the bourbon sweetness with the BiÃ¨re Brut dryness, combining to give a demi-sec complexity, but they haven't quite pulled that off. I think the Agave nectar probably ferments to nothing, leaving a much higher alcohol percentage than the beer can justify.
In the end, this is hot, boozy, unbalanced and slightly too thin for its aggression. It's a bit of a mess.
62 / 100
Pours a vibrant orange colour with lacklustre head. Off-white, thin ring of decently sticky lace on the outside. Slight cloud; but yeah, looks a bit bland.
Smells sweet; not sure if it's a big Belgian character. Sweet vanilla with a slight smokey note and rich melon fruit, some orange peel and musk. Interesting complexities and nice sweetness, but could use more Belgian spice esters.
Taste is more muted, and it's actually the richer for it. Slight fruit upfront with kiwi, melon and peach that waxes towards the middle; nice rich sweetness with a slightly bitter hint. This grows to a nice phenolic finish with some boozey heat, slight peppery spice as well. Dries up maybe a touch too much on the back, but is nicely full, big and smooth for the most part.
Challenging drinking experience, but pleasant for the most part.
77 / 100
Pours a metallic golden colour with modest - for a Belgian - white head, just a thin crown with puffy lace that sticks around well. Fairly proud, almost haughty-looking beer; not bad.
Smell is quite lovely. Rich, melony fruit with cantaloupe and some stone-fruit: apricot and peach mostly. Rich, scotchy booze note and hints of vanilla spice, kiwi and cardamom. Pleasant, sweet and rich. I like it a lot.
Taste is similar, with that rich, booze-soaked fruit blossoming out of that palate. Rockmelon, kiwi and peach submerge beneath a big, single-malt-whiskey booze character that dominates the midway without subjugating the other flavours. Big piquant spice on the back as well, with pepper, cardamom and cinnamon. Lovely balance to the palate as well; just a big, bold flavour with very little segmentation of its parts. Bit rich, but solid and enjoyable flavours.
Smooth but full, nice texture with a bit of a booze sting.
Enjoyable brew, would go very nicely with a gooey chocolate dessert.
44 / 100
Pours a very hazed golden brown colour, with an almost non-existent film of white for a head, which only forms a ring halfway around the glass. Thick body, extremely viscous and gooey. Carbonation is almost non-existent as well, which may explain the lack of head. Eh.
Nose is flat and a little oxidised by the smell of it. Some slight spicy clove characters, and a hint of dark fruit, but it's very subdued. Some boozy wafting characters, but I wonder if I only imagine them because I'm looking for something in the beer. Pretty weak.
Taste is harsh and slightly phenolic, with the booze definitely coming through strongly. This gives it an almost biting acidity, although the heat is enough to bring it back to the realm of booze. Rather lacking in sweetness, depth, spice and complexity, all the hallmarks of the style.
Big miss from me. This has the harsh, over-attenuated boozy one-dimensionality of malt liquor, the look and lack of carbonation suggest bad homebrew. Really not recommended.
69 / 100
Pours a pale golden colour with slight haze to it. Head is thin and white after a while, but generous and Belgian when poured. Lace is decent; could be stickier. Decent all round, but could be a bit better.
Smells sweet, fruity and Belgian with quite a delicious and glossy spice to it as well. Glacé cherries, candied orange peel, melon and kiwi combine with sherry, clove and nutmeg. Curiously dark and fruity with wonderful spice balance. Really rather delicious.
Taste is similarly fruity upfront, with melon and orange peel character, the latter of which lasts through to mid-palate. Develops an unfortunately bland metallic note towards the back, where it dries up but loses a lot of the esters, with the most-part being grainy and hollow. Decent notes, but it just falls a bit short.
Good body with a bit of presence on the tongue. Slight head on the back but overall quite nice.
Good beer and decent Belgian notes, but the palate needs more oomph to really leave an impression.
Pours a lovely golden colour, pale and streaming with carbonation. Head is frothy and solid and smooth. Lacing is frothy and persistent. It looks sophisticated, bright and intoxicating. Lovely looking brew.
Nose is solid as well, with pleasant lively peppery Belgian esters, slight spicy yeast notes and a slight marzipan astringency. Not all that complex or bold, but it pleasantly nails the stylistic characters.
Taste is similar, with more of those bittersweet nutty almond characters, and a slight coppery character towards the back which melds into a straight bitterness. Some rind characters on the back as well, giving a touch of bitter fruit. Interesting. Feel is smooth, but nicely livened by the carbonation.
Very drinkable beer, very pleasant and smooth, with stylistic interest. The 8% is pleasantly blended into the complexities so it doesn't affect the drinkability. Another very solid brew from Red Hill.
80 / 100
Pours a shiny golden colour, lotza head (lotza head), fluffy and white and sinking in nice, uneven craters. Lacing is very nice as well. That's a good amount of head.
Smells very funky. A real mustiness to it with a touch of mulch and gravel, but a nice acidic edge, giving lemon zest and green apples. It's been a while since I've had a good funky Belgian smell, so it's a welcome return to my olfactory. Could lean heavier on the sour though, 'tis a bit mouldy-bitter-smelling.
Taste is fairly funky as well, with a slightly sour, organic flavour on the front. Develops some lemon, ginger and mint notes midway that all blend with that organic barnyard mulchy kind of flavour, and the latter takes over the finish; idiosyncratically bitter and fairly mild for all that. Very nice.
Nice foamy texture, a bit dry on the back but leaves you feeling warm and loved.
Great beer, with a well-handled funky palate. Slightly off flavours are far from off-putting.
75 / 100
Uncorks with a sound like a gunshot, surprising, as up until the point at which it uncorked it was difficult to pry out.
Pours a pale golden colour, with a slight haze from the voluminous sediment in the bottom of the bottle. I poured off the top of this, but still some managed to be agitated enough to enter the glass. Head is a crackling mess of white, voluminous and exciting. Lace is excellent as this crackles down. Body is extremely slippery and fluid, although it looks like it has a bit of heft to it. Overall, it's a great looking beer.
Nose is crisp and dry, with hints of crackling champagne yeast and a dry sweetness like apple cider. Some spicier Belgian yeast notes come through, giving a slight phenol and pepper note to the mix. Very distinguished, if extremely dry.
Taste is smoother than I expected, with more pepper notes on the back. On the front we get a surprising sweetness from the apple characters, matched with a cutting segment of Belgian yeast phenols. The spicy bite on the back is pleasant enough to cleanse the palate, but never gets too brash or astringent.
Feel is great. Incredibly smooth, but staying light throughout.
This was a very nice beer, and a great Belgian-from-a-non-Belgian. This had style and sophistication far above its genesis. Good work.
74 / 100
Pours a pale amber colour with a thick cloud and protein floaties (proaties), steady but thin bead. Head is white, nice and dense with decent retention. Lace is stretched, but sticky.
Smell is underwhelming. Plenty of fruit hiding in there, but hiding. Notes of apricot, raspberry and a hint of tamarind towards the back where it gets more bitter and phenolic. Touch of orange peel, cardamom and green peppercorns. Subdued, but nice.
Taste is very complex and Belgian, with bitter, boozey phenols competing with fruity esters for supremacy starts with a vanilla-malt base with nice cereal grain notes. Phenols come through with hints of cardamom, rubber and fresh fennel, blending with lemon, apricot and mildly tart berry notes for a mid-to-late palate that straddles the hub between fruity, spice and bitter quite nicely. Starts fruity and ends fairly spicy-phenolic. Good Belgian palate.
Full body, slight boozey warmth, otherwise very smooth.
Good, complex brew. Could see it matching well with an Indian curry or chilli prawns.
77 / 100
Shared with @LaitueGonflable and @tobeerornottobe as we brewed our flagship IPA.
Pours a very light amber colour, quite bright when held to the light, and with a pleasant haze that collects and refracts the light. Head is bubbly but fine, leaving some patchy lacing of pure white. Looks pretty decent.
Nose is round and supple, giving some pleasantly smooth, almost buttery Belgian phenols, and a pleasant spicy sweetness that suggests the bright pepper notes of Belgian yeast, with the smoothness that underlies it. Very pleasant indeed.
Taste is also relatively smooth, but the sweetness comes and goes with a semi-sweet nut butter and grain character cut with a spicy, slightly phenolic bite through the centre. Very smooth feel, with an almost indistinguishably light carbonation.
Very nice beer this oneâit hides the alcohol well, and comes across a lot lighter and easier drinking than it is. Interestingly, I put this and the Rare Vos side-by-side and they're miles apart. Obviously this is stronger, but it shows how much the strengths assists the style. This was fuller, rounder, more integrated and better balanced.
61 / 100
11% ABV Belgian Strong Pale Ale brewed for 't Waagstuk in Antwerp by Brouwerij Van Steenberge.
Pours a heavy, deep golden colour, almost syrupy. Very frothy meringue of white head that forms sticky, solid, clumping lacing. Fine carbonation. Looks heavy thoughâevery bit its 11%.
Nose is pale, with sweet apple characters and a slight crisp sharpness. Very light, however, and not a lot of depth or complexity. It's not bad, but it's certainly missing something.
Taste is similar. Light and crisp flavours sit above a very heavy body, that releases lingering boozy fruit notes. Very dry and acerbic finish, almost tart and certainly very strong. It's not a great end, and you feel like each sip is an effort, but it's not bad.
It's a pretty half-assed Belgian in my opinionâway, way too strong for what it is, and the characters it can impart. It needs the complexity to justify the strength, and it just doesn't have it.
78 / 100
Brewed at De Proef, and dry hopped with East Kent Goldings. They specifically don't call it an IPA, although it's on the verge of being a Belgian IPA in appearance and style. (Also, apparently known as their Anniversary Ale).
Tasted at 't Wagstuuk in Antwerp. Great little bar.
Hazed, deep golden colour. Big, thick, rocky frothy white head, that forms marvelously sticky, clumping lacing. Looks great.
Nose is grainy with amber, lightly coloured notes to it. Hops give a really pleasant touch of sharp passionfruit. Very nice basis of yeast, with that seedy, lively passionfruit notes. Very pleasant.
Taste is crisp and light with sharp, clean hop bitterness through the centre. Very light and amazingly, amazingly drinkable for a beer weighing in at 10%âthere's just no hint of it. Crisp, light fruit, sweetness and an almost pilsener-like fresh grain note. Wow. It's maybe the most refreshing 10% ABV brew I've ever had.
Lovely brew. Half strong Belgian pale, half Belgian IPA with a phantom, impossible half of New World pilsener to it. It's perhaps just a bit too sweet, but certainly not boozy or astringent, but really nice characters, and supremely drinkable.
77 / 100
Had on-tap at Moeder Lambic in Brussels. Felt like something hoppy after loading up on the sours.
Pours a pale yellow colour, hazed, with a full, thick white head. Lace is crazy and honeycombs beautifully down the inside of the glass. Fine carbonation. Decent body.
Very pleasantly hoppy nose, especially noticed in comparison to the others I'd recently had. Very European in style however, without any citrus sneaking in. More grassy, herbal, grainy, slightly organic, above a very Belgian-style round sweetness. It gives characters of fresh broken ice and blue mint. Nice.
Taste is sharp, with a really pleasant clean bitterness. Brassy finish with a cleansing lemon character. On the mid-palate there's characters of grass, black tea, holly, mulberry leaf and marzipan. Sharp and bright in the mouth.
I don't think I really understood a hoppy Belgian until today. I always just compared them to hoppy American beers. Maybe it's because it's on-tap, maybe because it's fresh, but this shows the way and gives a refreshing uniqueness to the style.
83 / 100
2011 vintage, brought back by BA @lacqueredmouse and shared.
Pours a pale golden colour, slight orange tinge. Lots of unfiltered haze. Head is off-white and nice, pillowy and dense but maybe too generous. Lace is pretty pleasant. Looks good.
Smell is very sour and funky. Big brett character giving blue cheese, vinegar and lemon zest. Great, though, with nutty notes as well - pine nuts, peanut and cashew just balancing the royal bejeesus out of what is already a divinely beautiful sour aroma. That's ridiculously enjoyable.
Taste has similar characters. The problem here is they're blended in a way that doesn't entirely work, rather than presented more side-by-side for a proper look-in. Lots of sweetness, with candied orange zest and touches of brett - lucerne and a hint of that sour bacteria flavour. Witbier sweetness, champagney finish, very pleasant touch of tartness. That sourness really could assert itself more, it's quite sweet and dry on the back. Clean, but it just makes me hanker for more sourness.
Full, fairly foamy, a bit dry. Pretty nice.
Yeah, I'm a fan of that. It drinks like a conventional beer, but there's a whole lot of weird idiosyncracies going on as well. Love it.
Purchased from Leura Cellars, when I realised that I was yet to review it. Interesting.
Pours a clear copper amber colour, with a fine and minimal head of white. Some sticky lacing, but the body looks relatively light, and the carbonation streams effortlessly to the top of the glass. Not bad.
Nose is light and caramelly, with not a lot of Belgian esters or spice. Indeed, it's very light overall. Just some mild candy and caramel sweetness, and a very subtle touch of grain. Not the standard Belgian aroma I'd expect.
Taste is similar, with more of a strong English Amber character to it that a true Belgian, lots of caramel malt, a bit of sticky grain and a slight astringency on the finish. Back is extremely thick and heavyâfeels like it really needs something else to clean it out.
Not bad, but certainly not great. Belgian beers spread quite the gamut, but this is one you feel could have used a little more balance, and a little more of that classic Belgian yeast character. Lacks a lot.
Pours orange-tinged gold colour, nice haze to it. Head is off-white, nice and densely-packed but with nice webbing on the top. Lace is decent, clingy. Looks good.
Smell is tart and wheaty, but a large dose of booze on there as well. Slight citrus, a touch of melon, but the dominant aroma is, sadly, a characterless alcohol heat. Yeah, tart - sour, even - and boozey. That's about it.
Taste is definitely better. Quite rich with lots of sour notes, raw wheat mixed with orange peel, some white wine vinegar and distinct floral notes. Yes, camomile, but I'm thinking jasmine as well. It tempers the tart wheat notes, but doesn't entirely take over the palate. There's a hot booze note on the very end, which is a shame, but finish is still nicely floral with a tangy organic flavour. Quite nice, but not entirely successful.
Nice, full, smooth, feel. Booze is there in flavour only, not in the texture.
Yeah, a nice imperial wheat that manages to redeem itself in spite of a number of flaws. Decent, enjoyable brew.
73 / 100
Pours a dull orange colour with fine haze throughout, rendering it largely opaque. Fine trails of bead all around the edges. Head is very pleasing - dense, a shade darker than white, retaining very nicely with some beautiful sticky lace. Looks a cracker.
Smells nicely fruity. Faint touch of something that might have been hops with a citric tang and some piney wood. Underlying fragrance of banana, peach and nectarine. Beautiful combination of lovely subtle esters, a touch of grassy funk in there, just nicely tangy, sweet and appealing.
Taste is an interesting one. Starts quite tangy with all those stone fruit notes hitting the palate - peach mostly, with banana and apricot as well. Develops a strong funky character midway with a domineering medicinal flavour; really quite bitter that kind of peaks late-mid where it gets a slight bitter rind note, then trails off for the finish. The back-palate is unfortunately lacking; just a lingering phenolic aftertaste that feels empty. Overall quite tasty, I just want it to finish stronger.
Nicely full body with a slight warmth from the alcomohol. Slight tingle, pretty decent feel.
Yeah, enjoying this quite a lot. It's an interesting twist on Belgian flavours. Would like the sweet front to last a bit longer and maybe some more funk on the back, but it's a pleasant drop nonetheless.
75 / 100
Purchased as part of an order from the Adelaide Bier Shop.
Pours a hazed and rather pleasantly bright golden colour, with an initially frothy head of white, that collapses to a manageable size. Some lacing, but not a lot. Looks decent enough.
Nose is quite smooth, but rustic with those classic slightly raw Belgian yeast characters. Some sweet esters of crushed vegetation and a roundness. Rather pleasant. Maybe not as complex as some Belgian examples, but good nonetheless.
Taste is similar. Very smooth, with a slight lingering acidity on the back to freshen the palate. Light peppery, spicy phenols through the centre, and an overarching character of green vegetation, which doesn't quite tie everything together. It's very pleasant nonetheless. Again, not as rich and complex as some examples, but certainly still good.
Alcohol is well hidden, and overall, it's pretty smooth and pleasant.
Purchased online from the Adelaide Bier Shop, and shipped to Sydney, quite amazingly (with a reasonably large order) for less than I can buy it locally.
What's to say about this beer? This is a weird brew, and there's no getting around it. It pours a bright reddish pink colour, hazed from the sediment that seems to form through the bottom third of the bottle, with a fine and delicate head of pinkish white, that leaves sheets of tiny-bubbled lacing. Body looks light, and there are frantic streams of small-bubbled carbonation cutting through to the top. It's a very unique and rather impressive looking beer.
Nose is weirdly balanced between pungent and lightly organic Belgian esters, and a light almost berry-like fruitiness. Skews weirdly towards sweetness, but with a raw, robust, almost meaty sweat to it. Very, very unusual.
Taste is unsurprisingly flat from the rice addition, but with a big upturn in odd smoky meat characters on the finish. Light body, almost the crispness of a lager, but without the crispness of flavour. Booze is very noticeable in the rather under-nuanced palate, giving a sharp heat on the mid palate when everything else has dropped out.
Yes indeed. What is to say? This is a fantastically unique beer, that really has some interesting points. I can't say it's something I'd enjoy regularly, but Kiuchi have come up with something yet again (as they did with their cedar-aged Japanese Classic Ale) that is unique and memorable.
72 / 100
On-tap at the Local Taphouse for GABS. Apparently this is the first of Murray's FBB series. I look forward to more.
Pours a deep golden colour, a very refined hue. Fine head of white leaving surprisingly sudsy and heavy lacing for an 11% ABV beer. Body quite light as well.
Nose is delicious. Gorgeously big robust boozy notes with some orange rind sharpness the clean the edges. Not much hint of anything Belgian, but the fruity and pungent New Zealand hoppiness comes through. Smooth and round. Better balanced than the Spartacus, their other beer in this vein.
Taste is really quite sweet. Someone mentioned that they thought it might have had an incomplete fermentation. Hard to believe in a beer that's already this big, but it might be right. Some hop characters come through along with a hot, astringent booziness, but it's very heavy overall, and the sweetness gets a little cloying after a while.
I respect this for the big, heavy beer that it is. It has some genuinely nice flavours.
61 / 100
Pours a metallic golden colour; head is nice and Belgian, fluffy and white with lovely puffy lace left behind. Lots of bubbles in the body. Very nice Belgian look.
Smells very sweet, almost candy-esque. Huge candied orange aroma with a touch of banana and pineapple as well. Odd; if I were expecting a big fruity English ale I might enjoy this but it's not what I expect from a Belgian.
Taste is also very sweet, with a crystallised fruit flavour all over it. Starts fairly saccharine with a slight passion edge but then develops more complex sweetness heading towards the mid, a touch of banana and apricot as well as some light golden syrup characters. Some spice on the back, but the yeast notes are minimal and as a result the booze is virtually undetectable. An odd beer but I'm finding a lot to like on the palate.
Bit of body to it but less than expected for 11%. A bit dry on the back; not bad.
Quite an enjoyable beer and kudos on hiding the booze so well, but I do feel like this is a lot sweeter than it really needs to be and as a result I couldn't drink that much.
77 / 100
Pours a very light but extremely hazed yellow white, with a huge and voluminous head of pure white. Lacing is clumpy and truly Belgian in style. Eventually it settles, but still stays pretty consistent. Looks very pleasant indeed.
Nose is spicy and phenolic, with a big crispness and a slight tartness. Quite fresh overall, but with the boozy and sharp end of the Belgian yeast spectrum. Pretty decent.
Taste is spicy and phenolic again, with an unapologetic booze note throughout. This smoothes out on the back though, quite pleasantly, leaving a dollop of round, meaty Belgian yeast flatness to soothe the palate. Some spicy fruit characters dot the central palate: melon and mango, all compacted to a strong astringent point, giving a nice lift. Indeed, this is smoother, but just as complex and spicy as some of the better known examples like Duvel.
Feel is incredibly smooth, and although there's a noticeable heat of alcohol, it doesn't prickle the palate as I thought it might.
Lovely beer, a really smooth and mellow, but spicy and complex Belgian strong pale. Such beers are rare indeed, and more often than not, you have to take the intense heat and spice as part of the package. I'm glad this one mellows it so much.
75 / 100
Part of my 2010 NYE celebrations. I'm also wondering when, if ever, I'll stop seeing Unibroue in Australian bottleshops, despite the freeze on exports.
Bright but very light golden colour, with a head that would be frothy and exuberant if I allowed it, but sits firm and fine in about five millimetres of foam on the top of the glass. Decent sudsy lacing, and the body is heavy, if not sticky. Looks the part.
Nose is pleasantly blended between spicy Belgian yeast phenols, and a light and sharp Eurpoean lager character. Some lemony characters come through, which really give a lovely sharpness to the nose, and provide a pleasant counterpoint to the smooth and round characters expected of the style.
Taste is light, but very subtle and pleasant, crisp in some places but round in others. Slight phenolic characters on the front, with a lip smacking dryness that almost leads to acidity, before the slightly spicy, slightly sweet Belgian yeast characters come to balance it out. Some oaky characters present on the back. Feel is very light for 9%, in the Belgian style, but there's certainly not a lot of alcohol present.
Yep, a nice beer, without a doubt. Spicy and bold, but subtle with the big characters throughout. Probably an easy beer to get into, but one which rewards you if you're looking for complexity.
56 / 100
Pours a mild golden colour, with a hint of distrubed sediment giving a slight haze. Head is initially firm and solid, but disippates to a filmy scum on the top of the beer. Lacing is only slight, and the body looks a bit thin overall.
Nose is slightly spicy with hints of witbier style coriander seed, matched with a sticky-sweet hint of dark toffee and brown sugar. It's actually rather pleasant all up, and certainly gives a deeper note than expected from the lightness in the body and the colour. Slight hint of spicy phenolic Belgian yeast, but it's certainly not the main event. Not a bad nose all up though.
Taste is a little bit disappointing. The sweetness is here again, but it appears rather cloying on the palate, and the spicy phenols don't appear nearly as much - it needs some sort of bitterness to cut through. Instead, the palate just drops out of the centre, leaving some redisual sugary characters around the edge with just a whiff of spice that ends up tasting candied. Feel is rather empty, especially at the end, although it has a pleasant roundness on the front.
Not a great Belgian style ale. It's really missing something, and the characters don't really balance that well. I found it rather cloying after a while. Another beer which proves how great the Belgian examples are by failing to live up to their standards.
Pours a light, clear straw yellow colour, with a loose, frothy head of pure white foam. Collapses soon enough though, despite some strong and persistent carbonation. Lacing is good. Looks the part.
Nice champagne/sour notes on the nose, almost tending towards cidery, but veering from that, which would be an insult. Odd smoky characters with a little bubblegum, Belgian yeast and a light, tangy fruitiness. It's nice enough, but odd.
Pleasant, light, if somewhat subdued palate. Hints of bubblegum, grain and sweet citrus. A light bitterness on the mid palate disappears to form an arid finish. Mouthfeel is extremely dry and puckering. Refreshing, however.
Drinkable enough, but not terribly exciting, especially for the style. Not a huge Belgian brew, but quite pleasant, and easy to drink.
71 / 100
Pale? I think not. Pours a dark, hazed brown, with flashes of amber lighter colours. Head is full and robust, a slightly creamy off-white crown. Lacing is present, but a bit transient. I do like the colour, the haze, the creaminess of the head. Looks a good beer.
Nose is pleasantly flavoured, with notes of oak and spice, mixed with a heady aroma of cherry carnival candy. Slight aromas that suggest sourness, with a sweetness to ground it. It's really quite a lovely aroma. I could smell it all night, but I must push forward.
Taste is also good, but slightly less full-flavoured than I expected. On the front, there are pleasant notes of light acidity and a woody oak character, but the back drops off a lot, leaving a milky white chocolate aftertaste mingled with a touch of organics. Feel is light, with a slight crispness, which is pleasant enough, but strike me as slightly odd with the darker flavours on the palate.
Nice brew. Very light on the palate for 8%, and there's very little hint of this. Flavours are pleasant and reasonably well integrated. I feel like there should be a touch more of them, but it's still a very nicely crafted beer from Fantome, who genuinely have a habit of making beers I enjoy.
73 / 100
Pours a mostly clear, but very slightly hazed golden orange colour, with a full and thick head of large-bubbled white foam. Lacing is sudsy but consistent. Lots of streaming carbonation, and the body looks surprisingly light. Not bad overall.
Hmm, not sure what I was expecting on the nose, but this isn't it. Lots of tropical fruit characters implying a large west coast hop addition. More spice than usual though, with a lightly phenolic yeast note coming through. The more I smell, the more pronounced are the characters of Belgian yeast, but there's still something quintessentially American about it as well.
Taste is very interesting, and again different to what I was expecting, my expectations having been put through a turnaround by the nose. Here, there are more lightly phenolic yeast characters, a light boozy strain and a nutty finish. Some hop bitterness is present on the back, but it's subdued, and just lends a tropical undertone to the other characters. Feel is quite light. It feels like it's jangling a little uncontrollably through a number of odd flavours, but it does work.
An interesting brew, almost feeling like a hybrid style, or just a Belgian ale brewed with the American stamp all over it. I'm not sure if it really wows me, but it keeps me guessing, and that's something.
I'm always interested in partial rye beers (or in this case, partial triticale beers), and always a bit unenthused about partial grape beers. This mixes the two, so we'll see how it goes.
Pours a darkish golden colour, very clear and still in the glass. Head is onlt a filmy of fine white around the edges of the glass, although it was more solid in the centre when first poured. Looks reasonably heavy, but otherwise a little lacklustre.
Spicy Belgian notes on the nose, with pungent lightly phenolic yeast notes, and a hint of acidity. Bit of grain husk adds a bit of gravity to the aromas. Pleasant enough, but nothing particularly exciting.
Taste is where it starts to get a bit weird, and to be honest, where I feel a couple of years of age on it may help it a lot. Taste is quite pungent on the fore, with a slicing grape juice acidity laced with a touch of rank funky rot. Big Belgian phenols well up on the back, along with a sharp and aggressive bitterness than interleaves with the phenols to give a harsh finish. It's big and bold, where the aroma and appearance were lacklustre, but it's far too raw right now.
Yep, this is a beer which needs to be laid down for a while. I love the concept of the Vertical Epics, and would love to be around when it's time to crack them all open together, but this one certainly needs more time. I only hope it has started to blend a bit better when its time comes.
50 / 100
Bit of a gusher. Pours a pale golden colour with steady, fast carbonation. Head is snow-shite with moderate bubbles, sinking fairly quickly but leaving some lovely webs of lacing around. Looks pretty good.
Smell is pleasantly sweet. A lot of nice stone fruit aromas including peach and apricot with a light berry edge. Some nice musty spice hiding at the back with nutmeg and a soft rubber aroma. Maybe some vanilla on the front as well makes it a touch too sweet, but otherwise pleasant.
Taste is a bit odd. Lots of bready grain and some yeasty notes. Very sweet with insipid honey on the mid and some musty Belgian yeast esters on the back. Slight peppercorn spice and some vanilla, cakey malt notes on the late back as well. Yeah, wondering if this might be a bit old? Feels like the malt has lasted beyond the rest of the flavours and it's just lightly sweet with some off-grain flavours mixing with weak sweetness. Just feels thin and unimpressive.
Bit of a foamy texture with a noticeable carbonation tingle to it. Not too much though, decent body.
Yeah,not too bad drinking wise but it's not hugely enjoyable. There's certainly nothing to suggest this is old except that I was expecting more from it. Stand by for re-reviewing anyway.
69 / 100
Pours a clear light golden colour, much like costume jewelry. Head is a pleasant frothy meringue of pure white that collapses in its own airy nothingness. Looks quite refined. Not bad overall.
Nose is pleasantly savoury, with a pleasant sprightly champagne character overarching everything else. Light dustiness and a refined sharp Belgian note. Quite a nice nose overall.
Taste is quite light, but has that pleasant Belgian yeast character drying the palate, and leaving a slightly roasted nut flavour. There's certainly not a huge amount on it, but it's pleasant enough, even though the back palate is slightly too sweet.
Not a bad beer all up. It's certainly very light and extremely drinkable, despite its ABV. I've had far better and far more complex Belgian ales, but this one is a pretty decent one.
44 / 100
An oddly sediment-suspended dark golden colour, with a very filmy head of slightly white foam. The head is only really a collar of large-bubbled foam around the edges. No lacing. I can't say it's a particularly inspiring brew all up.
Bread and slight banana characters on the nose. Bit of cellar mustiness and a wet cardboard oxidised character. All up, let's face it, it's not a great nose. Lots of slightly off characters, but all together it's not unpleasant.
Very light palate, with some sweetness and a bit of yeasty bread character on the back. A little acerbic with some medicinal bite mid-palate. The sweetness gets a bit cloying after a while, and it has a peppery bite on the back which makes this even more difficult. Mouthfeel a bit cloying.
I find it difficult to drink. I'm not a big fan all up. The sweetness is too much, and there's certainly not enough good characteristics to pull it through.
76 / 100
Lovely idea for a beer, and it's beautifully packaged in paper. Bottle is caged and corked. Looks pretty good before I even pop it.
Satisfying thunk out of the bottle from the cork, the beer pours a pleasant, orange-golden colour, with a sturdy and fine head of cream-white foam. There's a little haze from disturbed sediment, although on first pour I tried to leave it clear. Lacing is good. Overall, looks an extremely fine brew.
Loads of oak on the nose, with tart hints of brett and a twangy citrus tone wavering behind everything. Bit of green apple skin and a fug of sweaty leather. It's a ripe old beer, this one.
Minimal tartness on the palate, which is surprising, but there are loads of soft fruit characters that give some of those vinous notes anyway. Green apple again, peach, and melon. Oak barrel noticeable. Bit of gritty bitterness on the back that shapes out the finish nicely. Quite a dry finish, very wine-like indeed. Mouthfeel is sparkling, and perhaps a little too lively.
A very interesting brew this one, and one I'm very pleased to have tried. Cheers to the guy at Platinum Cellars in Bellevue Hill for chucking this in to my last purchase. It's certainly a unique and exciting brew.
77 / 100
I do like the generic squat Belgian 33cl bottle. I think it's also designed to promote a good head as it pours. That's probably nothing more than a conspiracy theory on my part though.
A very pleasant clear golden-wheat colour -- sediment stays in the bottle -- with a frothy and boisterous head of white foam. Lacing is excellent, but the body looks surprisingly light and approachable.
Ah, very pleasant Belgian notes on the nose, round and a little meaty, but this one is shot through with a pleasant vinous notes redolent of oaked chardonnay. Even a light fruit hint of something tart -- perhaps cranberries or green apple. Really lovely Belgian nose.
Taste is also sweet with Belgian nuances, and long lasting, starting with a light sugar character, and contracting to a dry, slightly grainy mid palate, before a big "ta-da" at the end dropping that round and mellow Belgian yeast character. It's very much a Belgian ale from the classic stock, light bodied to keep it from being overwhelming, but bursting with flavour and stylistic elements.
The 7.5% is incredibly well hidden, as in all the best Belgian brews. I don't know, this is a really good Belgian strong pale. I think it could even give the likes of Duvel a run for their money. Given that I picked it up on a whim, I see it as a great personal victory.
Pours a golden orange colour with decent beige head that thins out quickly, leaving some decent lace behind. Appearance is cloudy and hazy, but otherwise flat. Lace could cling more. I like my lace clingy, like my women. Not great, not bad.
Nose is extremely malty, exxxtremely even. Huge caramel and brown sugar aroma with some fruity hints of apricot, almond and sultana. Definitely a malt bomb, could use more hopping. It's basically saccharine and sweet on the nose.
Taste is kind of the same, a lot of sweet grain coming through with notes of caramel and lactose on there. A slight tangy citrus flavour halfway through owes more to lemon squash than west coast IPA and the finish becomes sweet again with a very slight touch of bitterness lingering at the very back, slightly herbal but is more pronounced by the dessication of the feel as it goes down than any distinct bitter flavour.
Alcohol is not very noticeable, which might have been a good thing, but I think in this case, a more distinct warmth might give this a more pleasant, liqueury character, whereas now it's just sweet and flat.
I am disappointed but not surprised, as this bottle is a bit old. Watch this space for a re-review in the future with a fresher batch.
73 / 100
Pours a rusty orange-yellow colour, full of cloudiness, with a fine and lively head of white foam. Some collapsing of the head, and there's little lacing, despite the obvious heaviness of the body. Looks pretty good.
Fair amount of mustiness on the nose, mingled with an organic Belgian yeast character. Lots of sweetness on the nose as well, perhaps one of the precursors to raw sugar - treacle or molasses, something that keeps its organic genesis prominent. Pretty decent.
Very similar characters on the palate - the mustiness takes on a lightly bitter, slightly roasted character, which oddly jangles against what I expect, but the sweetness is prominent, and the round Belgian yeast also lends some spice and a touch of acetone. Some heat is noticeable on the back of the palate, and the boozy flavours come through on the aftertaste. Body is really good. Quite thick and rich, but with a lightness that ensures it doesn't get too heavy.
Yeah, nice drop all up - the booze and acetone could be subdued a little, but it drinks surprisingly easily. A very good Belgian style from a non-Belgian brewery, in any case.
57 / 100
Pours a murky orange colour, yellow spectrum at the top when held up to the light with slow carbonation. Produced a thin white head at first pour that dissipates, leaving a film of decent lace revealing a moderate body. Looks flat but holds its end up.
Nose is very sweet. A lot of banana ester and a slight hint of bubblegum on there, strong caramel notes underlying with a touch of butterscotch. Candied orange peel as well provides a slight tartness and a whisper of nutmeg provides the only bite. Not overly strong in its sweet which bodes quite well, and a decent complexity.
Taste is bold and sweet. A lot of caramel malt on the front blends with a strong fruitiness which then takes over for the finish. Lots of apricot, banana and grapefruit vie for attention with the final cheer going to banana. Some more bubblegum suggests itself throughout and a good dose of sherry brings together the slight alcohol warmth and the fruity sweetness.
Alcohol most prominent on the feel, with naked booziness giving a harsher texture than necessary. Body is full enough but not assertive enough to overcome the boozey brashness.
Not an unpleasant drop but at best a whimper of what it could have been. Has potentially great flavour but never fully lives up to it.
Pours a nice orangey colour with very pleasant beige head, thick when first poured, sinks to a cm with small bubbles, nice and dense on top, leaving some decent webs of lace around. Steady bead feeds the head from below, and it has a pleasant, slightly yeasty haze.
Nose is fairly tangy, fairly Belgian. Goodly amount of malt giving off a nice earthy sweetness with orange peel and nice peppery Belgian spice at the back. Hint of coriander, with caramel and a hint of buttery diacetyl on there as well. Sweet mostly, spice is kind of underplayed. I like a good spicy nose and this undercuts my expectations a bit.
Taste is quite good, nice caramel maltiness pervades through the front palate, then a nice earthy note with slight tartness around the edges coming through on the mid, lemon-orange with a hint of anise, clove and more coriander. Slight whisper of a boozey strength but without the warmth. Hint of vanilla on the back as well? Yeah not bad, pretty par for the course in Belgian pale-ale terms. A slight coppery aftertaste is not bad, nothing here is bad, but nothing here is making me cream myself.
Feels dry overall, like a Belgian should be. Starts early, sapping the moisture with a sharp spice sensation and finishes champagne crisp. Don't love it, but it's stylistically fine.
Quite downable for all its sharp edges. Not a bad beer at all. I think the best offering I've had from Koningshoeven.
72 / 100
Pours a slightly cloudy pale golden colour with enormous (yeah, it's Belgian) white head, large bubbles but produces large frothed-up egg-white-style foam on the top, sinks unevenly. Leaves some nice specks of lacing. Yeah, nice Belgian pale ale appearance, would like less head though.
Nose is very Belgian. Lots of green character with a slightly sour spice to it. Hints of green peppercorn and capsicum and a slight pickle brine note. A pleasant sweetness lingers behind though, slight glazed character with light tropical fruit. Quite nice but standard Belgian pale ale nose.
Ooh, oddly fruity on the palate. Sweet and strong but with a large fruit flavour on the mid. Distinct cherry notes with some apricot and orange peel as well, but yeah, mis-to-late it's a rich, sweet, glacé character all over it. Maraschino cherry and a slight red grape skin note as well. Unexpected. A lot sweeter than I'd thought but still a nice dry Belgian finish, lacking in spice but not venturing into oversweet territory, thankfully. Pleasant, sweet and rich.
Feel is a bit sizzly with carbonation coming through, dry on the back but a nice thick body. An interesting one. Texture is reminiscent of a good brut champagne.
Not a session beer, but pleasant for tasting. Nice flavours and good balance with a nice clean, dry finish.
Pours a slightly cloudy pale yellow colour. Head is snowy and densely packed, not a lot of bubbling on the top, sinks a little, leaving a thin crown, and some nice trails of dense lacing. Looks quite nice, would like more head.
Nose is a little bit sour, very Belgian actually with nice orange peel notes and a nice dry spiciness on there. Notes of caramel sweetness on there, but mostly that nice piquancy, a hint of cinnamon and stewed apple with some citrus as well. Pleasant, if a bit 'mainstream' Belgian.
Taste is a little bit more sour. Hints of green vegetation, a kind of floral nectar note on the front, descends into more green apple and orange peel flavour with a richness behind it; tart but fairly malty overall. Has a green grape skin flavour at the back, and a bit of brassy, metallic hop. Yeah, tastes a bit raw and underripe; Belgian in character with a hint of spice on the back. Not bad but a bit impudent on the back with that sourness, and has a bit too much skew to the 'green'.
Feels a bit foamy, a little bit of sizzle and quite dry on the back. Decent for the style but doesn't amaze me. Overall it feels a bit harsh at times, drinks almost like a lemon slice has been dropped in, but not overall offensive. A decent beer.
76 / 100
Uncorks with a sucking thunk. Very impressive and noisy.
Pours a lovely slightly cloudy gold yellow with a foamy and thick head of white bubbling. Lacing is sticky and impressive. Overall a very nice looking brew.
Very round sweet Belgian characters on the nose, with a bit of pepper and a crushed savoury note reminiscent of Sao biscuits. The savoury character is lovely, adding a lightly grainy counterpoint to the sweet and robust Belgian notes.
Taste is a little light, some freshness around the ends and a little tobacco tannin coming through. Peppery characters leaven it a little. Very nice, and very true to style. Mouthfeel is crisp, lacks a little smoothness, but otherwise pretty good.
A very drinkable beer; ABV is hidden well. It's not the most complex or adventurous RR beer I've tried, but this is a great example of just how solid Russian River's brewing expertise is. This could easily be confused for a genuine Belgian.
Pours a clear golden yellow colour, with a massive, voluminous and frothy head of egg-white foam, fed by an enormous, almost ridiculous, amount of carbonation. It almost seems as though the beer is more gas than liquid looking at all the streams of tiny bubbles. Looks good though.
Nose is muted belgian yeast, some roundness and a little organic sweetness, with some pepper and spice. Carbonation acidity is also present, unsurprisingly, given the level of bubbling. Pretty nice, if not particularly complex or robust.
Taste, ooh, something seems wrong here... Big phenolic acetone character and an evaporating booze fume presence. Roundness is there, with a little Belgian sweetness, but it's suppressed by the sharp and pungent heat. It's very harsh, making it difficult to take.
After a while, it gets more bearable, but this seems rather unpleasantly unbalanced compared to most Belgian style ales. It has some nice characters, but I just found it very difficult.
70 / 100
Pours a deep reddish-brown, the colour of scorched earth. Head is great when first poured but sinks. Body is murky as well because of a slight cloud in the brew. Light bead, lace is unimpressive. It almost had me until the lace.
Nose is ridiculously sweet, too sweet in fact. Huge boiled lolly aroma with hints of marmalade, peach, red apple, even red jelly beans. There's a hint of piquancy behind, maybe cinnamon, in fact definitely cinnamon, at the back. It's probably just the Belgian yeast strain, and that saves it from being really overly sweet. In fact, it is growing on me a bit. It's too sweet, but it's a nice complex, sweetness.
Taste is quite rich, sweet, Belgian. A lot of orange marmalade on the front with peaches, apricot and plummy richness, a hint of beautifully ripe cherries as well, then the sweetness dissipates by the mid. A lot of wine and oak come through then, with a hint of dark chocolate. Finish is woody, slight grain husk bitterness and a slight ground coriander flavour. Gentle lick of alcohol on the back gives off a mild tequila flavour actually, nicely bitter with some spicy hops and booze. Yeah, a lot better than the smell. Still not quite mind-blowing, it has a nice rounded flavour and a fairly nice steady palate journey.
Nicely foamy feel, with a lot of body, great amount of thickness. A bit ashen and dry on the back though, which is a shame.
Yeah, pleasant beer, but the noticeable alcohol adds a sharpness on the finish which lowers consumption level slightly.
80 / 100
Served to me by @laituegonflable, purchased from Slowbeer in Melbourne and transferred back to Sydney. Possibly one of my last Unibroue beers in Australia given their new policy on exportation. Sob.
Pours a cloudy burnished murky brown, with a filmy but thick head of off-white foam. Some lacing, but the retention in the head isn't great. But otherwise, not too bad.
Big caramel and burnt toffee notes on the nose, very sweet and rich. A little hint of something slightly spicy and round, with a bit of butter fullness. Quite belgian in style. Rich and delicious.
Taste is full and sweet, with some slight acidic notes of currant midway through the palate. Finish is lingering with toffee notes, certainly round and full to the finish. Very delicious all the way through, very few, if any, unpleasant notes - it's all full of pleasant, well balanced deliciousness. Mouthfeel is excellent, matching the roundness and slight acidity really well.
Surprisingly drinkable given the rich, full flavours. It's really smooth, with a crispness from the latent acidity - a really, really lovely drop.
43 / 100
Pours a mediciney red colour, ruby but with a slight ochre tinge around the edges and kind of swampy in appearance. Head is huge, off-white, and spreads out, sinking like cobwebs, becoming less dense and just breaking up. Residual lace is decent but there could be more. Pretty good overall.
Okay, nose is quite Belgian in character. Pungent and fairly strong and quite dark, with a noticeable cognac-style alcohol twang, and a fair hint of spice. Slight sour oaky character with hints of red wine tannins, but not much else. A bit methyl, not quite complex or full enough.
Taste has a fair amount of malt at first, with hints of cocoa and tobacco, and a quite distinct whiskey malt on the mid-palate giving a slightly smokey edge. Slight yeastiness comes through towards the back, a bit bready but not offensive to any great extent, and then finishes sour and slightly metallic, with a kiss of alcohol warmth, but nothing spectacular. Yeah, not overly impressed with this, it lacks depth of character, and flavour in general. Actually feels a bit confused, like it's trying to be strong and Belgian but forgot that you need ingredients to get flavour. It reminds me of a bland version of Unibroue 17, if I'm being generous.
Very dry throughout the palate, and really quite watery, if not thin. Just feels very wet and then leaves very dry. Not great.
It's not offensive, so points there, but there are many other things I'd rather be drinking.
61 / 100
A slightly cloudy red-brown mahogany body, with a head of very rocky off-white bubbles, that crackle and frothy before losing their integrity and collapsing. Lacing is very good though, sticking with cracked eggshell patterns down the side of the glass. Overall a pretty decent looking brew.
A bit of wet grain funk on the nose, some copper and a slightly sour carbonic note. Certainly something lightly acidic, in any case, and the metallic twang is unusual if not unpleasant. There's not a lot of wonderful characters that make me particularly excited, but it's not offensive either.
Taste is similar. Some initial grain notes that get overwhelmed with a slight lactic acidity, that morphs into a big metallic note like chewing tinfoil. This is slightly irritating, and the finish is very dry with the same sort of character. Mouthfeel is quite round at least, which is pleasant, although with the metallic characters I almost want something a little thinner.
A drinkable enough brew, but certainly a little odd. Nothing enough to put me off it, but I was a bit disappointed with it overall. I was hoping for something with more balls.
Had on tap at the bierhaus. Seems to have been recently brewed.
Pours a burnished orange colour with very pleasant, thick cream-coloured head of fairly small bubbles. Steady stream of bead. Lacing is speckled but nice and sticky. Looks good, but not spectacular for a Belgian style.
First note and PLEASE TAKE NOTE, LOBETHAL - served WAY too cold. It's icy. The snifter was actually freezing my hand as I held it, had to warm it extensively for about five minutes to get any sort of character from it. Eventually got some fruit notes, raisin and some apricot. Some tangy citrus as well, and a good dose of some alcohol phenols on the back with some maraschino cherry notes. Smells quite light and fruity, could use more spice to remind me it's a Belgian style.
Tastes very tangy, lots of cherry, strawberry and baked apple flavour from the start. Mid-palate imparts some phenols, hint of tonic water and a bit of over-sweet character coming through. Big warming alcohol notes, a little too strong. It's quite noticeable. Quite spicy but in a bitey, alcoholic way, with a whisper of white pepper on the back that gives it a bit of an edge. A bit overdone with the booze, not enough flavour complexity to mask it, and it's really obvious as a result. Okay but lacks depth of flavour. Basically I'm just missing that wintery, malty undertone and the richness of the spicy Belgian yeast, they're just not apparent enough. Too many esters five this a light ale character, but with a large alcohol hit.
Mouthfeel is not bad, very full and textured. Could use a bit more stickiness from malt, but from the lack of malt on the palate you can tell it's a nice full thick beer from the feel at least.
Not all that drinkable actually, a bit of a struggly. Very sweet with obvious alcohol - not such a good mix in a beer.
Pours a nice earthy orange with a nice thick haze, and hugely generous beige head that sinks all webbed out in sparse bubbling. Specks of lace but not much. Nice haze, great head. Would like more lace but otherwise near perfect.
Nose is very hoppy, and quite European in the hop character. Quite pilsenery actually, with a slight floral edge and a hint of pineapple, but mostly grassy and herbal. Bit of malt coming through but minimal. Not bad but lacks something.
Taste is very sour and quite phenolic, with a slight tangy citrus juice character on the mid followed by a longer rind kind of bitterness at the end. Quite acrid at times with lots of funk kind of character and some quite herbal phenols like Chinese medicine. Leaves a bit of a bitter hand which isn't tasty, but not overly offensive. Interesting is the best I can say about this.
Fairly nice mouthfeel, full body with some sedimenty texture, goes down pretty smooth and leaves a little dry. A good amount of slick.
Yeah, not too bad overall. Had a nice "flawed" character, with kinks that make it interesting, but not so much as to spoil the drinking experience.
74 / 100
Light cloudy amber golden colour, with a big and frothy head of off-white foam. Some floaties in the glass, little visible carbonation. Body looks quite thick. Overall, pretty nice looking.
Lots of floral notes on the nose, good dose of honey, and some meaty Belgian yeast. Some medicinal characters coming through as well, perhaps an alcohol aroma as well. Not bad, pretty robust.
Very smooth on the palate initially, with a rather unexpected hop character mingling with a piquant alcohol heat. Some sweet Belgian yeast character coming through as well, some cellar-like mustiness, with a very dry finish. Overall, a tasty drop.
A drinkable Belgian strong, with some characters to give it a lift, and make it a tad more confronting that I would have otherwise expected. Still, there's a lot to enjoy, and Dupont have another winner here for me.
57 / 100
Pours a pale hazy gold with mega fucking floaties in it. Like, that wasn't a bad pour, it just has large yeast flecks all through it. Bead is strong, as is head, off-white in colour and sizzles softly but retains, without sinking. Lacing is pretty decent. Looks unique, if nothing else.
Nose is very Belgian and particularly sour. Has a good belt of vinegar and green grape skin, a slightly meaty or tomatoey edge as well. Not much spice but a fair amount of funk, quite champagney and reasonably nice.
Taste is very similar - very sour, tangy and kind of funky. Fair amount of wild barnyard character with a furry aspect at the back of my throat. Flavours of vinegar, underripe cherry, tomato and unripe berries. Noticeable alcohol towards the back, isn't really hidden because the beer finished quite short. Most of the flavour is on the front and while there is a nice citrusy kick to the back, it fades away and the boozey strength hits you at the same time. A bit phenolic on the mid as well, but is really dominated by a sour flavour throughout. Lacks that Belgian spice, although the yeast is obviously well utilised to create all that funk.
Mouthfeel is quite tangy, with a strong carbonated feel, maybe too much. Feels nicely thick though, just burns a bit.
While I don't really enjoy this, it's obviously a respectable beer, and in spite of its heavy flavour and character I detect a lot of fine, subtle touches throughout the palate. It's very meticulous, even though the end result doesn't agree with me much.
71 / 100
Pours a reddish amber colour with a very generous but thinly dispersed beige head, dissipating slowly. Leaves a nice lacing web. Looks sweet and tasty.
Nose is very sweet and Belgian with a banana weizen yeast character. Yeah, very sweet, with caramel and slight fruit. Kind of a tropical, Hawaiian character to it. Very pleasant, complex and interesting.
Again, very sweet on the palate with a sticky, caramel toffee kind of mid-palate. Very, very slight hops on the finish, bit of the fruit from the nose lingering behind the main flavours. To be honest, everything about the palate is slight, and this diminishes what would otherwise be a fine, powerful drop. The flavours are pleasant but there is a slight lack of potency with the sweetness, fruit and everything promised by the nose being subdued.
Alcohol is absent - where are you, 8%??? And mouthfeel coats your mouth deliciously as it goes through. Obviously a very competent beer, I just find it a bit lacking in taste. Just a bit, mind you.
76 / 100
Great head billows up on the pour: big, rocky and solid as honeycomb. Slight haze in a golden yellow body. Looks very tasty. Lacing is clingy and chunky, light little fluffs of white fuzz. Looks very good.
Notes of biscuit and bread on the nose, also a little resin and a light Belgian yeast richness. Hint of lightly carbonic seltzer water, but not a huge amount overall.
Taste is much better, a delicious fusion of light, clean hop resin with a delicate light sweetness, and a faint tint of alcohol. There's a very faint hint of kriek on the back palate, a faint medicinal kick that adds some refreshment. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, but not heavy. Nice.
Extremely drinkable - I think it does have a slight alcohol kick to it, but in the best tradition of the Belgians it's so well alleviated. Beautiful to drink, a real pleasure.
56 / 100
Coppery-amber appearance, slightly sparsely bubbled head, very good when poured but dissipating to a thin film now. Kind of cloudy, without actually being cloudy. At least not transparent. Nice lacing.
Strong, actually quite lagery nose. Quite hoppy with a kind of amber ale smell as well. Bit of yeast to boot, not very welcome, but slight. This is your night, beer.
Less lagery than the nose because of a slightly sour, cidery character which dominates. Quite a hoppy flavour on the finish. Bit simple on the palate though, there's those sour, slightly hoppy notes and that's most of it. Mouthfeel is nice and smooth, very nice and smooth in fact. Plus it's quite a nice, inoffensive sipping beer, but nothing that makes my loins breach and burst forth with essence.
76 / 100
Nice foil-topped faux-ceramic 33cl bottle. Opens with barely a sound of carbonation - I was a little worried, as this one had a fair bit of age on it, but my worries were premature.
Pours a thick, cloudy light orange-beige colour, with a yellowing white head of compact bubbles. Carbonation bubbles make slow progress upwards from the base of the glass. Heavy body leaves excellent lacing. A great looking beer.
Light, fruity note on the nose: cider, pineapple with hints of darker, yeasty elements. As it warms, more organic tones of leather and earth creep in, providing a decidedly unusual character for such a light-coloured beer.
Crisp entry on the palate, with pine resin characters, rye bread and spices. Rather reminiscent of the loaves peppered with caraway I had in Austria. Very noticeable, robustly bitter back palate stays long and sharp. There's a strong note of alcohol heat to numb the palate slightly as well. Despite this, the body is quite creamy and full - more so than many invert-sugar reliant Belgian ales.
This is a very drinkable brew, and one that is smooth with age. I imagine there's some fresher characters in the younger version that I may have missed, but the mellow, creamy, languous version I have here is just fine with me...
80 / 100
Pours a light champagne yellow with a very impressively thick head of cumulous white foam. Stealthy but constant carbonation. Thick, sticky lacing. Outstanding-looking beer.
Nose has lots of malted wheat characters. Hints of sour, underripe fruit; cherries, pawpaw and the slightest touch of nutmeg. Very pleasant and complex.
Taste is dominated by sticky wheat malts throughout palate, blended with the same hints of tropical fruits suggested by the nose. A sign of a truly classy beer to my mind when the taste matches the nose so well. The palate is however slightly short, but it's imbued with such assertive pleasant flavours it's definitely worth it. I can bearly tell it's 8.5% as well, it's complex, sweet and rich but the mouthfeel is sticky and wonderful and there is no sign of a vodka-like alcohol burn as I experienced with Lucifer - for example.
This brew yells out that it was brewed by someone who genuinely understands beer. Very, very impressive.
44 / 100
Pours a nice light golden colour, lots of carbonation, excellent frothy head. In fact it acts almost exactly like champagne. Nice.
Smells lagery but lots of alcohol on the nose. It's not an unpleasant smell, but I don't immediately feel like selling my house in order to buy a lifetime's supply of this. And that's not just because I don't own a house.
Taste - Lotza alcohol hit. In fact it's almost a lotzxa alcohol hit, it's worth putting an 'x' in there. That's stating the obvious (maybe not about the 'x' but certainly about the alcohol). It tastes mostly beer-y but it is very strong, there's an intense fermented hit to it. Is it hideous? No, in fact if anything I'd say this is ideal as a winter warmer beer. It gives you that lovely throat-burning sensation like a good scotch or brandy. Overall I'd go with something slightly more alcoholic because if you want that heavy sensation, you at least want the benefit of getting maggoted more quickly.
(I thought at this stage maybe the bar had done the wrong thing by this beer in serving it chilled, so waited ten minutes or so)
Yeah actually, there is flavour there. In fact, at room temperature the nose is massively alcoholic and the taste less so. It's just a slight fruit hint though, little else. In fact it reaffirms its similarity to champagne. Sadly it doesn't have champagne's richness, its subtleties or its gorgeous flavour. Essentially it's just a lager, with what seems like too much alcohol.
71 / 100
Pours a very pale yellow with masses of haze and a lot of floaties. Pleasant thick, slightly off-white head and a little bit of lacing. Nice, but a few too many floaties.
Very spicy weizeny notes on the nose. A lot of clove and a dash of white pepper, maybe coriander as well. It's mostly spice, I'm guessing largely from the yeast which is very Belgian. Not much malt or hops but it's intriguing and nice.
Very intense wit notes, very strong and potent with an almost smokey character backing up on the finish. The fragrance of that fills my whole olfactory system. There is a slight fruitiness on the back, papaya or banana but it's overawed by a tsunami of spice and a kind of cedar wood aspect but I swear I'm getting mostly smell when I drink.
Quite an interesting beer. It's also very pleasant and it's light enough to be sessioned easily. I like this a lot.
90 / 100
Comes in a nice-looking faux-ceramic glass bottle capped with blue foil. Makes you want to look at it in the bottle for a while. But not for too long.
Somewhat cloudy, champagne gold colour. White frothy thich head which falls down to film quickly.
A nice looking beer.
Very nice. Savoury citrus, some hints of saltwater, with a sweet malt underpinning. Very pleasant smell really.
Very nice flavours. Mostly fruity sweetness, with a refreshing dryness. It starts with a sweet, fragrant fruitiness, but mellows to a dry bready flavour, undepinned by that warm base of alcohol.
Mouthfeel smooth, rich and filling. Wonderful.
This is what a high-alcohol beer should be like: no overpowering of the flavours by the alcohol, but rather the kick lending its complexities to the complexities inherent in the beer itself. Too often these high-end beers end up tasting like someone's taken a mediocre beer and turned up the "alcohol volume".
Very fine indeed.
The drinkability of this monster beer is limited, because the moderation required in enjoying it. But this is a fine beer nonetheless.